2022 Hanover Senior Softball League Rules
The Hanover County Senior Slow-Pitch Softball League will play by the official playing rules of USA Softball, with the exception of the following changes and additions:
- PLAYERS: ELIGIBILITY AND TEAM ASSIGNMENTS:
- An “eligible player” is an individual who has been “accepted” into the organization by the Board of Directors or it’s designee. The age criterion for acceptance into the League is specified in the organization’s bylaws. Any individual not so accepted is deemed an “ineligible player”. Players must pay registration before being eligible to play.
To play in the League, a player must be assigned to a team roster by the Team Selection Committee. Any violation may result in the expulsion of the unassigned player(s) from the League and/or forfeiture of any or all games in which the unassigned player(s) participated.
- The Team Selection Committee has the authority to move players as necessary to meet the needs of the League.
- TEAM REQUIREMENTS FOR AN “OFFICIAL GAME”:
- A minimum of seven (7) roster players per team is required. A team with less than 7 roster players will be made to forfeit. The games will be played but will not count in the standings. The 6:30 games will be forfeited at 6:40 and the second game will be forfeited at 7:20. The late games with the starting time of 8:20 will be forfeited at 8:20 (this will include both games).
Effective May 2, 2022 and in effect for the remainder of 2022: the Board of Directors has voted that a minimum of six (6) roster players per team is required. In 2022 a majority of the teams have only 12 players, instead of the usual 13 or 14, and hence this change will give flexibility to teams. The rule will be reconsidered in the off season for use in 2023 and beyond. All places above and below where seven (7) players is mentioned should now read six (6).
- A minimum of seven (7) roster players including at least one (1) female player is required. A team can start, and play a game with seven (7) roster players and others can be added during the game at the bottom of the lineup. Players added can be roster players or substitutes. Substitutes must be of the same caliber or less for the person they are substituting for unless agreed by the opposing coach prior to the substitute entering the game.
- To meet the requirements for an “official game” and the League’s preference for at least a 10-player lineup with eight (8) men and two (2) women, the League will provide, if possible, up to three “substitute players” for a team that has less than 10 roster players available. A pitcher can be provided for a team without an experienced pitcher regardless of the number of roster players available. A team with less than two (2) women may pick up enough women to have two (2), and a team with less than six (6) men, may pick up enough to have six (6) men. A maximum of three (3) total pick-up players is permitted. A team picking up men to have six (6) must play six (6) men on defense.
- All “substitute players” must be “roster players” as described under Section I (Paragraphs 1 & 2).
- Each team will have a minimum of ten (10) positions in their batting order with a minimum of two (2) female batting positions. A team with less than ten (10) actual players must take an automatic out in the batting order for the missing player(s) using either the designation “MM” (missing male) or “MF” (missing female), as appropriate. A team with at least ten (10) players and only one (1) female must also take an automatic out (MF) somewhere in the batting order.
- All substitute players can be placed at any position in the batting order (Reasoning-if you have subs for batters that would normally bat in the top 5 then your team is at a disadvantage if you have the subs at the bottom of the batting order.
Exception: If the team’s only female player(s) are “substitute” players, one must be placed in one of the top five batting positions.
- Late arriving roster players will be placed at the bottom of the batting order, unless arriving in time for their designated spot in the batting order.
- PROCEDURES FOR OBTAINING SUBSTITUTE PLAYERS PRIOR TO GAME TIME:
- When known in advance:
The League will maintain a list of substitute players by gender identity, position and skill level. Teams needing players will contact league player(s) of comparable gender identity and skill level for availability before contacting the substitution liaison who will discuss the team’s needs to approve/deny requested substitution(s). This also applies to a team picking up a pitcher. The intent is to provide the short team with a full (8-2) defensive team while maintaining fairness of team rosters. All decisions concerning substitute players will be made by the substitution liaison and are final.
Exception: Teams missing players who identified as female on their registration form must contact females on the substitution list for availability before contacting the substitution liaison for approval/denial. Similarly teams missing players who identified as male on their registration form must contact males on the substitution list for availability before contacting the substitution liaison for approval/denial.
At the field:
A manager who unexpectedly has fewer than ten (10) total players and/or less than seven (7) men or two (2) women players may request pick-up players from any Board member that is not a member of either the manager’s team or their opponent. The Board member will then select available players to fill the team’s needs keeping the intent of the above substitution rules in mind. Any team that is not able to fill out a team of ten (10) players may ask the opponent to provide a catcher on defense until a substitute is available. You do not need a substitute if you have a player on the bench.
- When any player is injured and cannot continue to play, or otherwise must leave the game, his/her position in the batting order will be “skipped” each time through; no penalty out. If the loss drops the team to less than ten (10) players or less than two (2) women or eight (8) men, then the team may replace such players if a substitute is readily available; such replacements must be selected by a Board member who is not on either team’s roster. The “replacement player” will be put in the lineup for the person they are replacing.
- In the unlikely event that a “Board member” cannot handle the request for “pick up” players, the opposing manager will determine what relief, if any, is allowed.
- The Board of Directors will review any instances of non-compliance with these rules that is brought to their attention by “protest” or other timely method and will determine what, if any, penalty shall be imposed. Such penalty may include forfeiture of the game(s) in question.
- FIELDS AND EQUIPMENT:
- Distances: The distance between the bases is to be sixty-five (65) feet. Bases must be secured to the ground. The distance from the front of the pitching rubber to the back of the home plate is to be fifty (50) feet. The outfield line will be set at 185 feet.
- Double Bag-First Base: A double bag or a mat, at least equal in size to the regular bag, is to be used at first base and is to be in foul territory adjacent to first base.
- Commitment Line: A line, thirty (30) feet from home plate and perpendicular to the third base side foul line, is to be used as a commitment line.
- Extra Home Plate: An extra home plate will be placed in foul ground adjacent to home plate.
- Bats: All ASA approved bats, all approved USSSA bats, and senior bats stamped 1.21 are legal unless they are listed as of January 30, 2022 on the official ASA Softball list of illegal bats. Legal bat website; https://www.teamusa.org/usa-softball/play-usa-softball/certified-usa-softball-equipment. The decisions of the umpires are final. It is the player’s responsibility to know if the bat they are using is legal. (Penalties for using an illegal bar are covered in ASA rules.)
- Senior Bats: All female players may use a senior bat. All male players sixty-five (65) and older (in current calendar year) may use a senior bat. Senior bat must have USSSA 1.20 stamp.
- Bat must clearly display a pink band of at least one-half inch (1/2”) wide on throat/handle.
First Offense: If an unqualified batter/player (men under 65) strikes the ball, he will be called out and all base runner(s) will retreat to their “before at bat” position(s). The batter will be immediately suspended for the remainder of that night of play and the next week of play. The player must immediately leave the complex and may not return until his suspension is lifted. During the suspension, the player may not participate in any League activity. Use of illegal bat will be the same violation.
Second Offense: The batter/player is DISQUALIFIED PERMANENTLY from the League and banned from all League activity including League sponsored tournaments. This rule also applies to the use of illegal bats
- Uniforms/Dress Code: Players will be provided with a “uniform jersey” and will be expected to wear that at all League games as much as possible. No exposed midriffs will be allowed. If a player is not appropriately attired, the player does not play offense or defense until rectified.
Players joining the League after the distribution of “uniformed jerseys” or in the absence of said jersey may wear other attire of their choosing (t-shirt type), providing it does not contain any text or graphics which is deemed by the Board to be offensive to the public.
Procedure/Penalty: Player shall be advised and warned. Repeated occurrences may result in the player’s expulsion from the League.
- Rained out games may or may not be re-scheduled.
- The League Standings will be computed using the team’s winning percentage. Games that are rained out will not affect the standings. Tie games will result in each team receiving credit for one-half game in the win column and one-half game in the loss column.
Chapter 1: All rules can be modified at any time, including during the season, at the discretion of the Board of Directors.
- RULES OF PLAY:
- Games are scheduled to be played at 6:30, 7:20, 8:20 and 9:10 PM on each Wednesday until the end of the season (usually late September).
- A game consists of seven (7) innings or fifty (50) minutes, whichever comes first. No inning shall begin after fifty (50) minutes except in the event of a tied game. Note that a new inning begins immediately after the final out of the previous inning, provided time is still remaining on the clock. One extra inning will be played for any game that is tied at the end of the time period or seven (7) innings, whichever comes first. The extra inning will be “one pitch” and there will be no limit on the number of runs that can be scored.
- Official Game: Provided three (3) complete innings are played before the umpire declares a rainout, the game will be declared an official game. This will also apply to games in progress when the lights go out at 11:00 pm. The final score at the end of the last complete inning played will determine the game winner. Any games which are called because of time are official provided at least one complete inning has been played.
- Each team may score a maximum of five (5) runs in each of the first three (3) innings. The Fourth (4th) and all subsequent innings will be “unlimited.”
- Unsportsmanlike conduct, abusive language, and/or cursing are not permitted at the softball complex. Any player ejected from a game for such conduct will be immediately suspended for the remainder of that night of play and the next night of play. The player must immediately leave the softball complex and may not return until his/her suspension is lifted. During the suspension, the player may not participate in any League activity. A second offense will result in immediate suspension until the Board determines the player’s return eligibility.
- Umpires have the authority to control the games.
- When a team consists of more than ten (10) players, each player will bat. There must be at least one female batter in one of the top five batting positions. The batting order at the beginning of play will remain unchanged except for late arrivals. See Section II (D).
- Two (2) strikes constitute an out; three (3) balls constitute a walk.
- A batter who fouls two (2) pitches after having one (1) strike will be declared out.
- If a male batter who precedes a female batter is walked, intentional or not, the male batter is walked to second base. The male batter must touch first base before proceeding to second base. Any current base runners will advance as forced. The female batter will bat if there are less than two outs. With two outs, the female batter has the choice to take her turn at bat or take a walk to first base.
- When facing batters, pitchers are to use twelve-inch (12”) balls. When facing female batters, pitchers are to use eleven-inch (11”) balls.
- Pitchers may begin their delivery with their feet on or within ten (10) feet behind the pitching rubber.
- The arc of the pitch must reach a height of a least six feet (6’) while not exceeding a maximum height of twelve feet (12’) from the ground.
- Any pitch, not ruled “illegal” by the umpire, that strikes the plate or the mat will be a strike.
- No safety pitching nets will be allowed.
- No more than ten (10) defensive players may be on the field at any given time and a maximum of eight (8) of these players may be male.
- The league will only allow 4-person infields during game play (a 5-person infield is not allowed). Additionally, all outfielders must remain behind the white line of the outfield until the batter hits the ball. Note: The umpire must see the infraction in order to impose any penalty.
- If an umpire sees an outfielder “over the line” before the pitch is delivered, he should stop play and instruct the player(s) to move back.
- If the outfielder causing the infraction is not involved in the play – No Penalty will be enforced, the play stands.
- If the outfielder causing the infraction fields the ball or makes, contact with the batted ball – play continues until conclusion and the offensive team has an option:
- Take the result of the play; or
- “No Play” is called and the batter is awarded first base and all runners move up as forced.
- No batter (male or female) may be thrown/tagged out by an outfielder before successfully reaching first base, even if the outfielder relays to the infielder.
Exception: runner can be thrown out at first if the ball was first touched by an infielder and the ball advanced to the outfield.
- All players must play at least two (2) innings of defense per game.
Exception: All players that are 65 years and older, at their discretion can choose not to play defense.
Exception: A team may choose to use one pitcher for the first game and a second pitcher for the second game.
- Base Running:
- Base stealing is prohibited.
- Sliding is allowed into second and third base.
- If there is a play on a batter going to first base from home plate, he/she must touch the portion of the double bag extending into foul territory. The batter may be called out for failing to do so. If there is no play at first base, the batter is allowed to touch the bag in fair territory. Players may over-run first base with impunity if they do not, in the judgement of the umpire, “make a move” toward second base after touching the first base.
- Base runners may not leave their bases until the batter has contacted the ball or the ball crosses the plate.
- A base runner who has passed and tagged third base may return to that base, unless his/her foot touches the ground on or beyond the commitment line. He/she is now “committed to home” and may not re-cross the commitment line in the direction of third base. Violations will result in the base runner being called out.
To score, a base runner must tag the extra home plate before a defensive player in possession of the ball touches home plate. To get a runner who is “committed to home” out, a defensive player must touch home plate while in possession of the ball before that runner tags the extra home plate. He/she must touch home plate, not the base runner. Contact with a base runner, who is “committed to home” by any defensive player may result in an “obstruction call” by the umpire in which case the runner will be awarded home plate.
A base runner will also be called out if he/she touches or crosses any portion of home plate.
- Courtesy Runners:
- The request for a courtesy runner must come from the batter or base runner.
- Any team member may be used as a courtesy runner, however:
- That runner may only substitute once per inning.
- Will be called out if caught on base when due up to bat.
- No courtesy runner will be permitted from home plate. The batter must reach first (1st) base on his/her own.
Exception: If batter is an amputee, he/she may receive a runner from directly behind home plate and runner will be allowed to advance at will to any base. The runner will start next to the backstop behind home plate, the catcher and umpire for safety purposes. Runner must be the last batted out, regardless if the last batter out was male or female.
- A courtesy runner may only advance one (1) base as result of the next batters at bat attempt, that is:
- If substituted at first (1st) base can only advance to second (2nd) base.
- If substituted at second (2nd) base can only advance to third (3rd) base.
If the courtesy runner forgets to stop at the next base, he/she will be directed back to the proper base without risk of being tagged out.
The above is for the next batter only. After which the courtesy runner may advance at will.
Ground Rules: If a played ball goes out of play (out of bounds) the courtesy runner may advance as the ground rule dictates, i.e.:
- Ball thrown to first goes over the fence or in the dugout. Ground Rule allows all runners to advance one (1) base including courtesy runner(s). This also applies at third (3rd) base.
- Ball hit to the outfield in fair territory bounces over the fence is a Ground Rule double. Ground Rule allows all runners to advance two (2) bases including courtesy runners.
- Ball is hit fair and rolls out of play on either the first (1st) base side or third (3rd) base side. Ground Rule allows all runners to advance two (2) bases including courtesy runners.
- Ball hit over the fence in fair territory is a home run. All runners including the courtesy runner(s) will score, with no need to touch all the bases (walk off home run).
- A courtesy runner may not be replaced by another courtesy runner unless he/she suffers a discernible injury and cannot run.
ASA Rules provide a No Smoking environment. Participant(s)/Player(s) may not smoke inside the dugout or on the playing field. This rule will be strictly enforced.
- ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES/CONSUMPTION:
Hanover County prohibits the use of alcohol within the County parks and will be enforcing this regulation. The League requires strict adherence to this regulation.
- A manager who believes that the opposing team is guilty of a rules infringement, shall inform the umpire immediately that he/she is protesting the game. The protest must be written by the protesting manager and signed by that manager and the umpire before the teams leave the field. The protest must include the specific rule(s) which was (were) violated and the names of any individuals involved.
- Managers involved in a protest must provide League officials with accurate copies of lineups and/or scorebook pages from the protested game.
Violation(s) of any of these rules by a manager, whether a protest is filed or not, is/are subject to review by the Board of Directors who will decide on any appropriate action(s) to be taken which may include forfeiture of the game(s).
The above rules were approved by the
Hanover Senior Softball League Membership